Thanks to some exciting new consultancy projects and the usual challenges of juggling life as a parent and business owner, I’ve been neglecting this blog of late. But being a massive fan of kids learning through play, Play Day was a good reminder that making time for play can provide a welcome and productive break.
With that in mind, I decided to give my daughter an exercise in research in a way that would be fun but would also give her an insight into what I do at work. Our ‘detective investigation’ didn’t just allow us to play together; we got to practice writing and typing skills, talk about data privacy and percentages and learn how to reflect and make decisions based on the information we gathered.
Our research topic was snack preferences – which unsurprisingly did nothing to lesson the usual number of morning snack requests.
In any research proposal, we should always analyse our reasons for carrying out the research. In business it’s often about understanding our customers better; in this case, we wanted to get an idea of which snacks my daughter’s friends liked so that when we hosted a playdate we could be well prepared to meet their needs.
Next we explored what we wanted to find out through our investigation. It’s easy to dive straight into designing questions without thinking about the answers you need. We wanted to know whether her friends preferred Nutella, jam or peanut butter – those being the three things we already had in the cupboard! We also wanted to see if it would be worth getting bread and pancakes in and if there were any other spreads or snacks they liked too.
We needed to be clear about who we wanted to involve in the research. Like most 5 year olds, my daughter has friends in lots of places, but we decided to focus on a group of her school friends – more specifically, the ones whose parents I had contact numbers for and could therefore invite to participate – and attend said playdate.
What with it being the summer holidays, we decided a survey was more practical than one to one interviews or a focus group (which would essentially be a pre-playdate playdate) – so went about setting up a SurveyMonkey. We chose 2 multiple-choice questions to get some quantitative data on different spreads and what they like to spread them onto, so that we could see which snacks would be most popular.
We also gave the respondents a chance to select ‘other’ if none of the choices were relevant. We then added a third, open-ended question giving them free rein to list other snacks.
Since we were collecting names, we made sure we included a data privacy statement at the top as well.
The results came in fast – who would have guessed kids liked to express their opinions about snacks?! It was soon time to analyse the results and draw some conclusions about which snacks her friends liked the most.
As well as using SurveyMonkey’s inbuilt chart tools to draw conclusions, we used some Playmobil figures and learning blocks to visualise the proportion of friends per spread for ourselves.
The main conclusions were:
- Jam is on the shelf; the majority (60%) of her friends preferred Nutella – only 1 (20%) preferred peanut butter – the other 1 (20%) said honey. So, we should get some more honey.
- We should buy both bread and pancakes; there was an even split between the friends who chose toast and pancakes as their preferred option (40% for each).
- Her friends like a diverse range of snacks; apples, carrots, cake, cherries, bananas, chocolate, ice cream, rice crackers, fruit bars, fruit, cucumber, biscuits, tangerines, crackers and strawberries. Basically, anything goes.
If you’d like to plan your own research exercise with your children, please download my free Detective investigation worksheet.